San Diego Olympians respond to fan ban from Tokyo games


SAN DIEGO (KGTV) – There will be no fans at the Tokyo Olympics later this month, Olympic officials said on Thursday. The number of COVID-19 in Japan continues to rise, leading to the declaration of a new state of emergency. Two San Diego Olympians from the United States water polo team reacted to the news as they prepared to do their best in a fanless hall.

In just two and a half weeks, two men from San Diego County, 38, Jesse smith and 27 years old Alex Bowen will be on the world stage in Tokyo.

“What we’re focused on is building trust between us,” Smith said. “We’re going to tap into that American energy and give it the best possible shot.”

But that American energy or any fan energy, for that matter, will not be present this time around. Due to the global pandemic, Olympic officials banned all foreign fans in March. Last month, they announced that they would only allow 50% capacity or no more than 10,000 Japanese fans. But with the increase in the number of COVIDs on Thursday, they decided that no fans, foreign or Japanese, would be allowed at the Games.

“The lack of fans and the lack of friends and family coming in. It’s tough, but I can feel the support coming from all over the ocean,” Bowen said.

Smith, a former Coronado High School student and 2008 Beijing Games silver medalist, made history by becoming a five-time Olympian for United States water polo. It’s a dream come true for Bowen, two-time Olympian and Santana High School graduate [Santee, CA], who now plays alongside his idol.

“I was 16 years old and he [Smith] returned [between his Olympic appearances] and helped with Shores of San Diego [Water Polo Club] for a few months, and I was over the moon. It was awesome, ”Bowen recalls.

The men admitted it was disappointing to play without their families cheering them on. But they are grateful that they can still play for their country in the hopes of bringing back some material.

“All Olympians, we’re so lucky to have great connectivity through the internet, so it’s kind of a continuation of all the obstacles everyone has faced over the past 18 months,” said Smith. .

“It’s not always the best team that wins. It’s the toughest,” Bowen said.

The men will complete their training in Orange County and Hawaii in the coming days and head to Tokyo. USA Team First Round Match is against Japan on July 25, 2021 at 2:00 p.m. Japanese time.




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